Saturday 9: Believe
Sunday Stealing: The Generic Meme

Wine Me, Dine Me...


Christmas lights in Miami's South Beach, 23 December

It's been a whirlwind, the last week for Team Odette! Phew! Let's see:

  • Dozens of mystery shops to complete, and the matching reports to write
  • Our 13th anniversary on Thursday
  • Same night relapse (maybe??) for Rob's brain tumor issues, with successive trip back to the neurosurgeon and the wait for another MRI while the local machine is down
  • Trips from Fort Lauderdale to Key West

Yeah. We keep busy here, and it's not about to let up anytime soon! Here are a few things we've done, which involves a lot of eating and drinking. Sirrusly, if I get chubby again, blame the job!


On Boxing Day, we went up to Fort Lauderdale to visit our friends, Erica, Kevin and their daughter Kira. The four of us grown-ups chatted away for hours, and the kids played in Kira's room. I fell asleep for a couple hours at one point! So rude, but so needed. Jack and Chloë zonked out on Kira's bed, too! Sleepy time for us, I guess.


Selfie with Chloë, 27 December


Two days after Christmas, we visited The Cheesecake Factory with a large gift card I had received. I had a lovely salad, here, and...


... a way spicy bowl of bean and rice something or other to eat. And, oh, yes, there was cheesecake! 


The kids shared this slice, and Rob and I took home a Kahlua slice for later. I didn't like it much, though, so I stopped after a couple of bites. He didn't much mind.


We still have tons of unpacking to do, so we decided to plunge in before the new year and dig the kids out of their rooms. Rob and Jack worked on the boy's room, and I spent an evening, all night, and the entire next day working on the girls' room. Of course, they helped me when they were awake, and this is the result. I wish I had taken a 'before' picture, because there was a tremendous difference! They are SO happy to have a nice room now!


Jack's room remains a work in progress, but they're almost finished. I love this photo of Jack peeking out of one of the giant moving boxes!


Selfie with Jack, 29 December


On 30 December, we headed back to Key West, about a 7-hour round-trip from our home, for four back-to-back high-end mystery shops. Here is the obligatory chicken picture. We stop at the same Circle K outside of Key West every time we go down there, and each time, I am possessed to take a chicken picture. I can't explain why.


We had major babysitter issues in the Keys for that trip, since I had two bar shops to do and couldn't have the children with us, but eventually we worked it out. I even called Stephanie up and asked for her input, and she telephone-interviewed a couple of folks for me, which is fantastically helpful! I wish I had gone with her final choice instead of what I did, which was call the nanny service recommended by the concierge of a top hotel in the area. The sitter we ended up with was nice enough, but a bit brain-dead, overpriced, and well, I just don't think we'll use her again. So we sat and had a Corona for Rob and a piña colada for me - okay, two each, while the kids ran around Duval Street with the dim-witted nanny.


We had to eat there, too, so Rob had wings, and I had a delicious quesadilla. I made it festive for, you know, the holidays and such. Silly me.


Rob posed for me next to the beautiful pool, at the tiki bar I evaluated in Key West. Looks delightful, huh?


On our way to the second bar shop, we passed a yacht or two. We'll call this shot our pipe dream...


Selfie with Rob in Key West, 30 December


We were supposed to have two more mystery shops in Key West that day, and another in Key Largo, but none of the three panned out. One of those was for a dinner at a world-class restaurant, but I had needed to make reservations about a month in advance. My shop didn't allow for that, though, so I was out of luck, no matter what I tried. I spoke to the manager of the hotel, who gave me his business card and told me to call him personally the next time I was going to be in town, and he'd get me a table there. Then he told us that Stevie Nicks had been there recently, and I had to hide my disdain. Ask Rob: I am not a fan! Here, Rob posed for me next to a classic car (I forget what kind) in the garage on the way out of that experience.


On New Year's Eve day, the five of us headed up to Coral Gables, toward Miami proper, for a fancy lunch shop. I had a Cosmo with my lunch, because a drink was expected of me. It was delish, which is more than I can say for my lunch:

123113 Coral Gables Neiman Marcus Mariposa Appetizer 1

Don't get me wrong, my crabcake appetizer was delicious, and second only to Uncle Chuck's crab cakes (he of the famous Virginia Beach Farmer's Market), in my not-so-humble opinion.

123113 Coral Gables Neiman Marcus Mariposa Appetizer 2

Rob loved his tuna tartare appetizer, as well as...

123113 Coral Gables Neiman Marcus Mariposa Entrée 2

... his yummy lobster ravioli. Mmm, lobster. On the other hand, I lost out of my lunch.

123113 Coral Gables Neiman Marcus Mariposa Entrée 1a

See, the scallops I ordered looked beautiful, right? But what's that in the risotto? Oh, it's pancetta. I don't eat meat, other than certain sea creatures and only on occasion. The pancetta wasn't in the menu description, so as requested by my shop requirements, I sent it back to the kitchen.

123113 Coral Gables Neiman Marcus Mariposa Entrée 1b

When it came back, it looked like this! Full of red pepper sauce. I don't do spicy - I just can't handle it - so I didn't have a bite. Not one single taste. Ugh. I was so looking forward to it, too!

123113 Coral Gables Neiman Marcus Mariposa Dessert 1

We ordered creme brulee for dessert, and that was tasty. I was still semi-grumpy about my scallops, though.

123113 Coral Gables Neiman Marcus Mariposa Dessert 2

We also ordered chocolate lava cake for dessert. Hey, two desserts spread amongst five people is not outrageous, right? I didn't have any, but it was devoured by the rest of the fam.


I had to visit the ladies' room there, and check out the foyer before the actual restroom. The ladies' room was almost bigger than our house. Man...!


We ran the kids home, got our babysitter and changed clothes before heading out for a New Year's Eve bar shop at a tapas restaurant, again up in Coral Gables. I had a rum runner or something, but the drink was not as memorable as that enormous slice of lime!


Rob had some prosciutto or some other thinly-sliced cured meat, and I had Caprese Tomate tapas, which were, in a word, incredible. I can still taste them; I crave them, and I will definitely order those again!


Still hungry, we shared some bread with cheese and fruit tapas after that. Delicioso!


Selfie with Sophia, 31 December


"Happy New Year!" selfie, taken around 2300 before the year changed to 2014. By midnight, I was asleep. I think it was the first New Year I didn't ring in since I was a baby. Am I getting old on me?!


On New Year's Day, we went to the fair down the road from home. Oh, my word, you guys. I got hit on a hundred times, more or less, by the carnies working there. Rob was standing right next to me half the time!! And the carnies, of course, shared three teeth among the bunch of them. One guy was completely drunk and would not leave me alone to go operate the ride we were on, and I was with the girls. Gross. Another carnie winked at me and told me I was cute. He and a third guy, who stunk horribly, told me to come back and visit him alone that night... crazy hilarious. As if!!


Aside from that mess, though, the kids had a fantastic time at the fair, as did their parents. That's what matters the most. I took a lot more pictures, but I'll just stick with these two from the fair for now.


The next morning, January 2nd, was our 13th anniversary. However, it was Chloë I took with me for breakfast in Key Largo, as promised. We had a mystery shop there, and boy... it did not go too well. But my mommy-and-daughter time with Curls was worth the trip.


That day, I took Jack to get some pet fish, as we'd discussed the previous night. They're in their aquarium now, but I haven't taken photos of that yet, like I know you're anticipating. Meet Taco and Rocko! He's super excited about his pets - and the girls were, too. So much so that they pooled their saved allowance money and bought themselves an aquarium set-up and each a fish, too. No pictures yet of Wiggles and Multi, but those will come down the pike sooner or later, unless the cats eat them first. Ha!

010314 BJs drink

Rob had his episode that night, so we had to abort our dinner shop for that night right after we got there. We're still waiting to get him in to the imaging department at the local hospital for another MRI, so in the meantime, we did a lunchtime shop at a brewery yesterday. I had a weak Mai Tai to drink, and I think my report was so scathing that the bartender will get severely reprimanded, if not fired. I'm trying not to feel bad about it, remembering that if he did his job well, my job wouldn't have hurt him.

010314 BJs food

We had the calamari for an appetizer, and that was the one good thing that happened on that shop!

On that note, I have to go see about getting ready for more evaluations today and tomorrow. I have a bunch lined up, and as long as Rob's brain wants to behave, I better go do them. TTFN, folks!